Senior Design

All undergraduates of the Ritchie School’s Engineering programs are required to complete a capstone senior design course offering multiple and diverse projects. Through teamwork, critical thinking and thorough systems engineering procedures, senior design projects allow students to apply the fundamentals learned in their first three years in a research and development project.

Program Overview

The Senior Design Project provides undergraduate students with an integrated, mentored, requirements-based design project, and gives them the opportunity to serve on self-directed teams. Each project team will conceive, design, prototype, verify and validate a system to solve a specific customer problem. The Ritchie School is currently seeking industry partners to provide industry‐specific projects for students to execute during the 2018-2019 academic year. By partnering with industry, students have the opportunity to complete relevant projects and to gain invaluable experience that is relevant to industry challenges and life after graduation. All projects will span the duration of three 10-week academic quarters, beginning in September 2018 and finishing by May 2019.

Educational Purpose

Students who participate in Design Projects will have already completed three years of undergraduate Mechanical, Electrical or Computer Engineering. Teams may be formed with students from multiple departments and each project should include mechanical, electrical and software elements so that students are exposed to both a variety of technical challenges and to risks at technical interfaces. The Ritchie School is committed to teaching a systems of systems engineering approach in design.

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Become An Industry Partner

Role of the Industry Partner

Our students enthusiastically welcome interaction with industry experts! Active participation in the project is critical to students’ educational experience as well as the successful outcome of your project. We expect that all Industry Partners will:

  • Provide a top-level description of the project objectives and specify any potential constraints from which the students in collaboration with the industry partner will develop requirements
  • Identify an internal primary contact who can dedicate at least one hour per week to the project.  Interactions are most important and intensive during the first six weeks of the fall quarter as students work to define the project and requirements
  • Meet and/or be available for teleconferences with the project team as needed
  • Provide the project team with advice and feedback on submitted documents and presentations such as the Project Definition Document, Preliminary and Critical Design Reviews, etc., in a timely manner
  • Attend (or host a web conference) with the team for one-hour design reviews twice each quarter
  • Provide input to the advising faculty regarding student engagement and performance based on a company designed rubric.  The course instructors and the advising faculty member determine grades for each student based on team achievements and individual contributions
  • The partner and faculty work together to mentor students; frequent (weekly or bi-weekly) communication with the design team is desirable.

Benefits to the Industry Partner

The Senior Design Program is a 1-year, delocalized internship that provides great value to both the student and the industry partner. Benefits to the partner include:

  • 30-week investment of of 6-8 capable and motivated engineering students
  • Opportunity to review and groom potential future employees
  • Maintain intellectual property and ownership of the work (must be addressed with advising faculty at the beginning of the project)
  • Relish the pride of having contributed significantly to the education of graduating DU engineers

Each participating student will be expected to individually dedicate 60 hours during the Fall quarter, 90 hours during the Winter quarter, and 90 hours during the Spring quarter to their Senior Design Project. This is a total of 240 hours per student. On a typical 6-person team, this is a total of 1440 hours of project work. The primary goal of the Ritchie School’s Senior Design Project is the education of engineering students. As such, projects that are in the customer’s critical path are not suitable for Senior Design Projects.  “Good-to-have” results and “off-ramp” studies are more appropriate for this learning environment. The University of Denver cannot take responsibility for final results and can only guarantee a written report as a final project deliverable.

Project Examples

Nike and DU: Improving the Future of Performance Footwear

One of the most popular athletic shoe companies in the world is partnering with the University of Denver. “Nike has a high regard for innovation and we strive to be the most innovative company period,” says Bryan Conrad, senior researcher for Nike basketball. Conrad says that’s exactly why Nike is eager to work with mechanical and electrical engineering students at DU.

Dragon Boat Adapted Seat: Students Driven By Innovation and Desire to Help Others

Engineering student Samantha Phillips was part of that yearlong design-build team at the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science. “Craig Hospital came to us with the problem of trying to have one of their former patients come and participate in the Dragon Boat Festival held every year out at Sloan’s Lake in Denver. No past seat exists out there that will attach an adaptive seat to a Dragon Boat seat,” she says.

Student-Designed Eye Tracker System at DU

Four undergraduates at the University of Denver worked together to design a new eye-tracking device that allows patients who are paralyzed to operate a computer. The device will cost roughly 2% as much as current eye-tracking tools, making the technology accessible to many patients who couldn’t afford it in the past. Students John Dewitt (computer science), Jeff Evans (electrical engineering), Peter Neilson (electrical engineering) and Jordan Rather (mechanical engineering) collaborated with occupational therapists at Craig Hospital to develop the new technology.